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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ARC Abuse?

Yesterday I received some ARCS from a lovely librarian friend of mine (she had attended a children’s publishing preview). I had JUST opened the package and placed the books down on the reference desk when a library kid I know to be a voracious reader came over, picked up the top book on the pile, and said “I REALLY want to read this! Can I?”

I hadn’t even had time to glance at the title, let alone read the entire book myself, but how could I say no to that sort of earnest enthusiasm? I told her “Sure!” She got really excited and bounded away, book in hand. About an hour later, I saw her sitting at one of the tables - she was already halfway finished with the book. “This is REALLY interesting,” she said as I passed by.

She promised she would return the book to me as soon as she’s finished, (although I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t - she is a kid, after all). Now, I’ve read some blog posts by some authors who are not happy with their ARCS being read by kids before the books are actually published. I can understand their perspective, but as a librarian, it would have been really difficult for me to tell her she COULDN’T read that book just because it might not exactly match what the finished product will be. (I mean, let’s be realistic, what 10-year-old cares about that sort of thing?)

So, did I screw up? Should I have told her it’s not “ready” to read yet? I don’t want to offend any authors or compromise the integrity of their work, but I feel like my first responsibility is to kids and literacy. At that specific moment, I felt like the right thing to do was to let her read the book. (In case you couldn’t already tell, she was REALLY excited.) How do we balance all of this?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

10 Tips for Librarians

For whatever reason, I've been asked to do a bunch of interviewy-type stuff lately (you can read two of them here and here), and it's been a lot of fun talking about my job and trying to raise awareness for public libraries. A common question I seem to get (even if my response doesn't end up in the published interview) is if I have advice for future and/or current librarians.

Now, I don't consider myself an expert, but I've learned a few things during my relatively short time as a librarian so far - nothing groundbreaking, nothing mandatory, but things that might possibly be helpful. There's a ton of advice for librarians out there. These are just MY views (feel free to add your own in the comments!) They might change in the future, and I will most certainly discover more. The most important thing I've learned is that you have to be flexible. 

Screwy Decimal's Top 10 Tips for Librarians:  

1) Even though you can't read every book in the world, try to have a general idea of what's going on out there. Glance at the New York Times Bestseller list. Talk to other librarians and friends in publishing or education. Scour bookstores and book-related websites. Find out what movies-based-on-books are coming out. And, as much as it may pain you, learn the names of the most recent James Patterson and Jackie Collins books (trust me on this one, especially if you ever work on the adult reference desk). 

2) Don't be a hero. Take your lunch break and any other breaks to which you are entitled. When you're on a busy reference desk and doing programs for most of the day, you need those precious few minutes of escape. 

3) Related: do NOT wear your library identification if you leave the library for your break. You WILL get asked reference questions in public. 

4) If someone flirts with you at the reference desk, don't flirt back. The only exception is if the person is Robert Downey Jr. - or your celebrity crush equivalent. You might think you're being nice and that it's harmless, but it will come back to haunt you. Just be polite, yet clear that you are not interested.

5) BOOZE. ('Nuff said.)

6) Form bonds and respect the kids and teens who come to your library, but don't let them run amok. You can be a positive and fun adult figure in their lives without letting them be disruptive or allowing them to take advantage of your good nature. 

7) On that note, don't let adult library patrons bully the kids JUST for being kids. The library is for all ages (this should be obvious, but sometimes people need a reminder).

8) Don't be afraid to stand your ground.

9) Don't be afraid to bend the rules.

10) And for the holy sweet sake of Pete, wear comfortable shoes.

That's all I've got for now. Have fun out there, kids. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lost in the Stacks

FYI: my librarian band is featured on page 42 of today's NY Daily News (Brooklyn section)! Woo hoo!

(Here's the online version of the article.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Game Day

This is a real photo taken by my friend Robbie of a real library on the South Shore of Long Island. Robbie shared the photo with me on Facebook with the following caption: 

"My library hosts inappropriate events. We keep it classy on the south shaw. So what? Who cares?" 

So what do you think, readers? What kind of "adult games" could be played on "Adult Game Day" at the public library? (On second thought, maybe you shouldn't answer that question. My mom reads my blog sometimes.) 

You stay classy, Long Island.  

It's Only Storytime (But I Like It)

Today I "performed outreach to the community," which is a fancy way of saying that I traveled to a local day care and did storytime for two separate classes of kids. There was one class of 3-year-olds and one class of 4 to 5-year-olds and they were all very cute and enthusiastic and engaged in the activities I provided. They also gave me a cute "welcome & thank you"  letter signed by all the kids, which kind of made my week. (Believe me, it's always nice to feel appreciated, especially these days.)

However, something happened during the 3-year-old session that made me question my entire approach to children's librarianship. I had sung my opening "Hello" song, did "Open Shut Them" twice (always a crowd pleaser) and had read one of my favorite storytime books, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. The kids were with me. We were having a good time. All was well.

It was then time to sing another song. I tried to prepare the group.

Me: "Okay! Can we all sing  'Wheels on the Bus' now?"

Because everyone loves that song right? It's a CLASSIC and no storytime feels complete without it. Kids usually cheer when I say we're going to sing it.    

"No!" A tow-headed three-year-old boy shouted with total seriousness. "Sing 'Call Me Maybe'!"

The kids laughed. The teachers laughed. I laughed. But something inside me twisted uncomfortably. This kid was THREE YEARS OLD. Putting aside the issues of musical taste and levels of lyric-appropriateness, he didn't want to sing "Wheels on the Bus."
This rapid loss of musical innocence is happening right before our eyes, people. A couple of (older) kids told me yesterday that they wish they could turn the library into a "rock concert" with Nicki Manaj and Lady Gaga instead of some of the programming we are planning for the summer.

As this guy said:  


These interactions make me feel old, my friends. More worrisome, they make me feel like I am perhaps not doing the best job I can as a children's librarian. I mean, is this where storytimes are headed? Are children's librarians going to be expected to throw out the classics for whatever dime-a-dozen pop song is hot that week in order to get higher program stastistics?  

Well, FORGET THAT. I'm not going to change my routine. They can pry "The Wheels on the Bus" from my cold, dead hands.

Despite my storytime inflexibility, it's my hope that I will still remain the...